Nature’s best friend? New alliance forms to promote conservation dogs

Thursday, 12 October, 2017

This week saw the inaugural meeting of a new network dedicated to promoting the innovative use of dogs for environmental work.  The Australian Conservation Dog Network comprises representatives from universities, non-profits, governments, zoos, research institutions and businesses working with conservation dogs.

Why conservation detection dogs?

A dog’s sense of smell is up to a 100,000 times more sensitive than our own. Conservation detection dogs are trained and deployed to research, detect and protect wildlife including koalas and quolls, and sometimes even weeds or rare plants.


Josey Sharrad from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says “Conservation dogs are an integral part of protecting the future of Australia’s unique wildlife and natural environment. IFAW is proud to support this important and much-needed initiative.”


Researchers Dr Celine Frere and Dr Romane Cristescu, of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Detection Dogs for Conservation programme, organised this meeting of conservation dog practitioners.


Dr Cristescu says: “We have been talking about establishing such a collaboration with the dedicated people working with detection dogs for the past two years. I am delighted that we have finally made it a reality over the past two days by combining expertise from five universities, government representatives, practitioners, welfare organisations and zoos across Australia. We are also keen to hear from others interested in becoming involved. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we have made a great start.”


Acting Threatened Species Commissioner Sebastian Lang also supported the initiative as another example of partnerships for threatened species recovery. “Conservation dogs are an exciting and innovative approach to help us protect Australia’s remarkable plants and animals. They are another ‘tool in the toolkit’ for recovery, and I look forward to this new network sharing its expertise, training more conservation dogs and ultimately saving more species. The more trained and expertly handled conservation dogs working out in the field, the more wins for the environment.”



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